September 4, 2007 Whispers of a night-time MotoGP event first reached Gizmag in early 2006 and now it’s official – the season opening Grand Prix of Qatar on March 9th next year will be held under lights to allow for better synchronization with European television schedules. The staging of the unprecedented night race will involve what is believed to be the biggest lighting project in the world for any sporting event – almost four thousand lights will be used to ensure visibility and remove shadowing from the track.
The potential for a night race at the was first investigated at last year’s Qatar Grand Prix when the three permanent riders on the MotoGP Security Commission (Valentino Rossi, Kenny Roberts Junior and Loris Capirossi) tried out the Losail circuit on street bikes during full darkness to evaluate its feasibility.
The announcement was made at a press conference at the Misano circuit last Friday.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, Musco Lighting’s President Joe Crookham and Vice-President Jeff Rogers were joined by Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah from the QMMF (Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation) and FIM President Vito Ippolito to make the news official in a short press conference, during which the reasons for the move were explained.
Making the announcement, Mr. Ezpeleta remarked, “Changing the Qatar race to a night time schedule allows for a better synchronisation with European television schedules, where the race can be made available in the primetime Sunday slot. This is obviously a big boost for the broadcasters, and a landmark moment for MotoGP.”
On behalf of the QMMF, Mr. Al-Attiyah commented, “This is obviously a major project for Qatar and we are proud to be able to say we will hold the first Grand Prix event under lights. Whilst this is great for the country’s image as a whole, it also means our track can be used in the hot summer months and we hope this opens up more opportunities for other motorsports events in the future.”
Experts in providing lighting services for racetracks and all kinds of sporting venues, Musco President Mr. Crookham described the complex system as, “The biggest lighting project in the world for any sporting event.” He added, “The system will incorporate over 3700 separate light sources across every section of the circuit, which will eliminate shadowing on the track and in the run-off areas. The quality of the light is the same as any premium lighting system at any other major sporting venue. Based on our experience in other motorsports events, the riders will be able to see as well as during daytime and may even come to prefer it.”
Meanwhile, FIM President Mr. Ippolito was proud to be able to announce the first night Grand Prix. "I would like to express my thanks to the QMMF and Dorna for the hard work which has seen this project move forward. Before it was just something to talk about, but now it is very real and it is great to see MotoGP changing for the better. It is positive news for motorcycling as a whole."
The race will open the 2008 MotoGP World Championship on March 9th.
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